What is a dinner suit? Everything you need to know

Dinner suits are one of the most popular choices for men’s formal evening wear. So, if you’re attending an evening wedding, a black-tie dinner, or another formal occasion, a dinner suit is a sophisticated choice. 

The master tailors at Phillip Alexander have put together this guide with everything you need to know about dinner suits and how to wear one. We’ll cover:

  • What is a dinner suit?
  • Dinner suit features
  • Suit vs dinner suit
  • Dinner suit vs. tuxedo
  • How to wear a dinner jacket
  • Can I wear a dinner suit to a wedding?


What is a dinner suit?

If you haven’t heard of a dinner suit, you might know it by its other name: a tuxedo. This name originates from the Tuxedo Club in New York, where it was supposedly first worn in 1886. However, while it’s commonly referred to as a tuxedo in America, the term dinner jacket or suit is more commonly used in the UK.

A dinner suit is usually worn to evening events with a black-tie or formal dress code, including formal dinners, parties, balls, and weddings. 


Dinner suit features

What makes a dinner jacket so unique is its satin detailing. This satin is usually found on the tuxedo jacket’s lapels, buttons and pockets. Sometimes, the matching trousers also have satin details. The satin is almost always black, even if the suit itself is a different colour. Black dinner jackets are by far the most common option, but white dinner jackets are also popular.

Another key feature of a dinner jacket is the shawl lapels, only found on this type of jacket. A shawl lapel is an unbroken piece of material that curves around the collar of the dinner jacket. 


Suit vs dinner suit

Aside from the unique shawl lapel and satin detailing on dinner jackets, the other main difference between a dinner jacket and an ordinary suit jacket is the level of formality. Dinner suits are considered formal evening wear, so they’re reserved for very formal evening events or special occasions. A suit is versatile and can be worn to casual and formal events. However, for black-tie events, a dinner jacket is required. 


Dinner suit vs. tuxedo

Put simply, there is no difference between a dinner jacket and a tuxedo. They’re just two terms used interchangeably to refer to the same type of suit. 


How to wear a dinner suit

If you’re attending a black-tie event, you’ll need to know the correct etiquette to ensure you don’t look out of place. Follow our advice to ensure you look as elegant and sophisticated as possible. 

What shirt should you wear with a dinner jacket?

You should pair your sophisticated dinner jacket with a white dress shirt. Your shirt should have a Marcella front (a stiff cotton weave) and a turned-down collar to accommodate your bow tie. It should have a French cuff and be worn with cufflinks. 

Should you wear a bowtie with a dinner jacket?

There’s a reason why black tie is called black tie. Your dinner jacket should be paired with a black hand-tied bow tie to elevate your appearance. 

What trousers should you wear with a dinner jacket?

You should wear tuxedo trousers with your dinner jacket. These have a single row of braid or satin fabric on the outside of each leg to match the detailing on your jacket. 

What shoes to wear with a dinner suit?

Black patent leather shoes like Oxford shoes are the most elegant choice for a black-tie event. 


Can I wear a dinner suit to a wedding?

A dinner jacket is considered formal evening wear, so whether you wear one will depend on the wedding dress code. If you’re a guest, you should only wear a dinner suit if the invite specifies that the dress code is black tie. If it’s black-tie optional, you can wear a dinner jacket or a formal, dark-coloured suit. You should wear a suit if you’re attending a more casual event.

However, if you’re the groom, you have more freedom about what you wear. You may decide to wear a dinner jacket even if there’s no black-tie dress code to help elevate you above your guests. 


Bespoke dinner suits by Philip Alexander 

At Phillip Alexander, we’ve been dressing gentlemen for over a century. Our master tailors are experts at crafting beautiful dinner suits perfect for your next black-tie event. 

With locations in Cheshire and Savile Row in London, Phillip Alexander offers a range of tailoring services, including bespoke suits, made-to-measure suits, and tailored suit hire. Whichever option you choose, our tailors will be on hand to guide you through the entire process, offering styling advice to help you look your absolute best!

Bespoke dinner suits 

Bespoke tailoring is our flagship service. This is the perfect choice if you’re looking for a stunning dinner suit perfectly tailored to your personal style. All our bespoke suits are hand-crafted by our master tailors to ensure that you get a suit of the highest quality that fits you seamlessly.

Made-to-measure dinner suits 

We also offer made-to-measure dinner suits, which are ready in less than two months. This is the perfect option if you need an elegant dinner suit in a shorter time frame. We use a mixture of machine work and handcraft to produce a quality tailored suit at a lower price point. 

Luxury tailored dinner suit hire

If you require a beautiful dinner suit for a black-tie event but aren’t ready to invest in one of your own, we recommend our luxury tailored suit hire service.

We offer a range of stunning tailored suits, including dinner suits, which you can hire for black-tie dinners, balls, and weddings. Our service includes several fitting sessions, and we’ll make adjustments to your hire suit to ensure the best possible fit on the big day.

Book an in-person or telephone consultation to speak to one of our tailors about a tailored dinner suit.